On March 9 all of the PR focused hashtag communities got together under the banner of one common hashtag (#chatmixer) to discuss PR. While there is value in each different hashtag, there is also a lot of value in occassionally merging.
Here are a few write-ups of that experiment:
Kudos to them for their leadership. In this post I am talking about the general concept that they pioneered of blending hashtags.
One of the greatest advantages of a Twitter Chat is that there are no community walls. In fact, I think about it like a town square of old. Its always open for anyone to wander through on their way somewhere else or to explicitly go to for an event. Throughout the week people may see each other and share a few platitudes. One person or another may even bring a soapbox and share their ideas. Still others will post notes for people to find. All these behaviors are replicated in a Twitter Hashtag Community.
Once a week a crowd will gather to converse, debate, share info, etc…. With Twitter, each one of those who gather also have a direct line back to their block (followers) communicating just a portion of the conversation. A follower, whose interest is piqued by this flurry of posts on a single topic, may come and listen. Any time THEY start sharing, they develop a direct line back to their block…and so on.
A #chatmixer takes this concept a step further and starts to blend crowds that may have a lot in common. While twitter naturally breaks down walls between communities anyway, the #chatmixer can explicitly bring two or more together.
There are lots of different ways to make it happen. You can create a new hashtag like the PR folks did, but I prefer a different approach.
- For chats that take place weekly, you set up one chat on each of the hashtags that are participating.
- Each topic can be the same or different, but it should be of interest to the intersection of the communities. Eg. for #KMers and #innochat we did “How does KM support innovation“
- If each community has a website (Ning, blog, wiki, etc..), you post the other group’s chat day/time for your community to see.
- For the pre-event promotional tweets you encourage multi-hashtags to bring members from one community to the others’ chat.
There are lots of overlaps among the Twitter hashtag communities. Click here for a spreadsheet list. I hope we will see more of them getting together. If your twitter use has not evolved to the point of community involvement, jump in right away. Everyone is very friendly. 🙂
Twitter chats are simply pre-organized times to tweet on pre-organized hashtags. They use applications like twebevent or TweetChat to corral just those tweets together and to auto-tag any new tweets with the right hashtag.
The Chat Schedule was inspired by Meryl Evans, who started a blog post with a collection of all the chats she knew about. The new spreadsheet version began as a quick solution so that no one person had to track and manage the information about all the Twitter Chats. There were only about 25 chats back then. It has since grown into a list of hundreds of chats with several new ones added each week.
Everyone from journalists to moms to finance people to Knowledge Management professionals are finding each other and banding together via Twitter chats. See more info about the Twitter Chat Experience
I fully expected that someone would write a little database driven web app that would replace the public Google Doc, but perhaps simpler is better in this case.
Thanks to all who run the chats, all who have posted information about chats, and all who tweet the link to the list so that more potential chatters can find one that’s right for them.
View the schedule for yourself and add any chats you know about that aren’t listed.
A few posts ago I talked about “Wave Chats“. Today I experienced my first wave used as a substitute for a real time Twitter chat.
It came about because the Twitter Search API was being finicky. This happens way too often and when it does, it takes out all the Twitter applications that rely on it: TweetDeck, TweetGrid, TweetChat, etc…. The only thing that will work in that situation is Twitter’s own search page. For some reason, they don’t use their own Search API for their searches. Hmmmm, I wonder why. Maybe because it is not stable. 🙂
Back to our story…… I was on a chat earlier in the day that was also having trouble so I thought about Wave as a backup plan. In order to make that work, I needed:
Step 1: a wave that anyone could get to. The way you accomplish that is by inviting firstname.lastname@example.org to your Wave. I created it as a contact in my Google Contacts and then invited to the Wave.
Step 2: A way to tell people how to find my wave. If you tag your wave with something relatively unique, you can have people search for “tag:<your tag>” or you can give them a URL. This one is for “tag:#eventprofs” https://wave.google.com/wave/#restored:search:tag%253A%2523eventprofs Note: tagging can be done at the bottom of the Wave interface.
Once we were in the wave, we very quickly found that some of the Google features are not necessarily strengths for real time chats. Allowing for threads to pop-up anywhere makes it impossible to follow the multi-threads that naturally occur in a real time Chat without scrolling all over the place to find what you are missing. So, we created a guideline that we would only comment at the bottom of the wave thereby making it a single one dimensional stream of information (just like Twitter).
It took some getting used to the fact that you could see all the simultaneous typing. If one was able to avoid distraction, the speed was actually much faster than Twitter Chatting due to no delay between post and appearance and also getting the gist of a post even before it was finished.
At the end of the wave period, several of us felt that it was an interesting experiment and there were definitely some nice elements to Wave chating, but that Twitter Chats’ ability to inherently promote the chat outside of the participants and to cross-post to other community hashtags was superior to Wave.
Anybody else experienced Wave in real time and want to compare it to a Twitter Chat?
Today on #smchat one of the chatters, who always has great ideas (@hacool), chimed in that she had been on a Wave that included a chat gadget. For those who are not as experienced with Wave, a gadget is just a mini app that runs inside the wave. It is similar to the way you can watch a video which is embedded within a blog.
It got me thinking (as tools like Wave have a way of doing to people)….why couldn’t I embed a Tweetchat right into a Wave? Brooks Bennett, the founder of tweetchat, was good enough to upgrade recently so that it is 100% embeddable. eg. KMers.org
I tried it and it worked!! Theoretically, what this will give you is the ability to get the best of both apps:
- Linear ie. just one spot to watch (the top of the chat), yet multi-threaded within that linear stream
- Each tweet goes out to all that person’s followers acting as an announcement mechanism for the chat
- Many different applications can be used to join the chat.
- Better threading
- Ability to group edit
- Ability to go back and edit what was previously written
It seems to me that some combination of the two could be a dynamite package. Who wants to do a trial run with me?
Online communities of practice (CoP’s) are VERY challenging to keep vibrant over a long period of time. The ones with staying power always have active management and multiple channels for members to collaborate.
Many personal and professional associations have learned this. They send out information and invite people to collaborate online throughout the year. Then they run one or more in-person events/conferences that help keep everyone connected to the group. Not many of these associations are using Twitter Chats.
You don’t have to have an in-person element in order to remain successful with an online community. Stan Garfield runs a fantastic community for KM professionals called SIKMleaders. He runs it through a Yahoo Group, but it is energized monthly by a phone call that anyone can join.
In my opinion Twitter Chats are currently the best method for online community invigoration. Here are a few reasons why.
- If there are 10 or more people on a chat, the experience is very fast/furious and therefore invigorating. The experience will keep people coming back.
- Every time anyone tweets during your chat, the existence of your community is being pushed out to all the chatters’ followers. This brings in fresh members
- The ability for chatters to cross-post with other related hashtags helps related communities connect to each other sharing ideas/members/etc…
- The chat hashtag can be used between chat events for people to interact asynchronously.
- Even non-Twitter users can watch and learn from the chat just by going to the right web page
Some examples of Twitter driven chat communities are
Each platform has its pros and cons for supporting a Twitter Chat driven community. To my knowledge, the only chat supported by a site built from the ground-up is KMers. It is custom-built using the Drupal framework and can be modified to fit unique needs of a Twitter driven community.
If you are part of a community that you believe could use a platform like KMers.org has, contact me via one of the channels available in the top right of the blog page. We can help you (free) with a version that works for your community.
If you would like to join a Twitter Chat community, try any of the over 80 on the Twitter Chat Schedule.
The fact that Twitter, Twitter Lists and Google Wave exist warms my heart. They are tools that generate their own innovation buzz eco-system and drive what this blog is all about: Future Business. Foundational tools like these, along with open source projects, are the essence of the web2.0 innovation renaissance. Think about how fast tools and processes can iterate today to match widescale and niche user needs compared to where we were 10 years ago.
At the moment it is the wild west for these innovation eco-systems. Everyone thinks they have a good idea and they are running full-speed either with a little bit of money or completely bootstrapped. Over time, we will start to settle on some valuable use cases and the real money will head in that direction.
As an innovator interested in new ways that business can operate, both tools’ potential fascinates me. While Twitter lists is pretty much what I expected it would be, Wave did not live up to my initial expectations. I’ll give both a fair shake over a period of time because, like Twitter itself, there is likely a path of use evolution. The truly valuable use cases might not show themselves until 3rd party apps have been written that run on top.
For Twitter Lists I am starting to see
- Lists that you are in can be a crowd-sourced social descriptor of what you tweet about
- Curating a popular list gives you credibility as a networker in the space that list covers
For Wave I think we are going to need tools and agreed conventions which
- Help us collectively “garden” (manage) waves. Waves have structure and are objects intended to grow over time. Because they become more complex over time, they need constant management in order that they are accessible to newcomers and previous visitors/contributors alike.
- Help us find portions of waves that are relevant to our needs and re-use those elements in our own content spaces: other waves, blogs, etc…
Long live the companies that are thinking about how to start the next innovation eco-system.